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Packing a hospital bag is a pretty daunting task, whether you are a first-time mum or a seasoned pro.
You never know what you might need to have on hand and even if you’ve had plenty of babies, have a look at this list to make sure you haven’t missed anything, in case the dreaded pregnancy brain fog has taken you over.
There are a few essential items on this list that I have never seen on any other post on this topic.
Probably because they are quite personal items or the reasons for needing them are personal. And people don’t like talking about the intimate details of what happens to a woman’s body after childbirth.
I was exceptionally lucky to have my aunt who advised me of all the ‘out of the box’ items that no ‘mummy blog’ or birthing forum had told me about.
My aunt had my cousin 11 months before I gave birth to my firstborn so the memories of what are necessities in a hospital bag were fresh for her… and a lifesaver for me. I was also fortunate that my mum was blunt about the creature comforts you’d want to have with you in your hospital bag.
#1. Nipple cream
If you plan on breastfeeding, this is absolutely essential.
If you’re a repeat breastfeeder with seasoned nipples, you’ll still need nipple cream on hand. Newborns have such an incredibly powerful latch. Sometimes they don’t latch properly and that causes cracked nipples and require the need for a decent nipple cream.
Look for one that is soothing. Allowing your nipples to air dry will also help. But nothing beats a soothing nipple cream for relief when the stinging kicks in. Your body will adjust to your newborn’s powerful latch soon, but until it does, have some cream on hand.
When we have baby #2, I’ll be packing the Nature’s Child Organic Nipple Balm again in my hospital bag. I found out about this after trying a few other brands and this one was a life-saver!
#2. Cheap cotton granny panties
I cannot preach the need for cheap cotton granny panties enough. And they need to be high-rise.
If you end up requiring a caesarean delivery, you’ll need panties that sit above your incision so the panties don’t irritate your incision and prolong the healing process.
The last thing you want with a newborn is an infection at a scar site.
And even if you have a complication-free, natural birth, you’ll want some cheap cotton panties that are wide enough to fit your surfboard sized maternity pads. Which leads to Tip #3…
#3. Lots and Lots of Maternity pads
You’ll want at least two packets of maternity pads in your hospital bag just to get through the hospital stay.
What happens to your body immediately after birth cannot be predicted. You definitely do not want to be under-prepared.
Even if you plan on birthing and leaving as soon as possible, pack as many as possible. Just in case your birth and leave plan does not go to plan and you have a longer-than-planned stay.
If you’re planning on reusable pads, ensure you have the ability to wash frequently as the bleeding is heavy in those first few days. Or have enough stashed in your bag and a hygienic wet bag to store used pads to wash as soon as you get home.
I’m open to using reusable cloth pads for regular menstrual bleeding. But the heaviness of postpartum bleeding immediately after birth scares me off using reusable pads, at least in the first weeks after birth.
#4. Comfortable clothing
If you’ve packed anything fitted for your hospital bag… take it out and start your packing again. Trust me.
Maternity jeans are the only exception…if it’s winter and if you can bear the tight crotch.
Oversized cotton t-shirts, oversized pajamas, loose and flowing dresses, maternity bras and those granny panties are the only types of clothing you’re going to want. I think this goes without saying.
But, as you might have guessed, I’m a big fan of being prepared for every situation.
Your plan may be to deliver at the hospital and go home as soon as humanly possible. But what if you can’t go home as soon as possible?
Comfortable clothes for labour and delivery go without saying.
Oversized Cotton Shirt
My mum bought me an oversized cotton t-shirt from Kmart that she swore I’d need. I didn’t end up going through labour with my first (scheduled c-section for my stubborn breechling) but I kept that shirt in my hospital bag regardless.
I didn’t know if I would end up going into spontaneous labour and by some miracle my child had turned cephalic (I didn’t and she didn’t, but I was prepared for the possibility).
I ended up using the oversized shirt during my hospital stay anyway. It was long enough that I didn’t need pants (waistband are the devil when you’ve got a healing incision). It was oversized enough to facilitate breastfeeding frequently.
So definitely pack at least 1, if not 2 oversized cotton shirts for yourself to be as comfortable as possible.
A dress of some-kind
You’ll probably want a cotton dress to come home in as well.
Remember the point I made about pants? They suck for c-section mummas. And judging by the residual pregnancy belly I had when I left the hospital? Pants are a terrible choice for any mum, regardless of how you birthed.
Be sure to pack several changes of clothes. You’ll sweat so much in the first days after birth as your body releases all the fluid it retained during pregnancy.
#5. Your own pillow
I can’t speak (yet) for the legends who go through labour and pushing and come out exhausted, but I most definitely was grateful for my own pillow after my c-section, that I could just collapse into (gently, of course) after the adrenaline of birth wore off and exhaustion kicked in.
I was exhausted.
I was lucky my newborn was relatively easy at the hospital so I did rest quite a bit with the comfort of my pillow. I used my maternity pillow for comfort which also helped with nursing my newborn. I can’t recommend this Cuddle Me Body/Pregnancy Support Pillow enough.
My aunt gave it to me when I first found out I was pregnant. She’d used it once or twice. I used it so often that I will need a new one if I fall pregnant with another child because it made sleep so much more comfortable while pregnant.
I made my husband carry it in and out of the hospital for me. It was perfect for both my pregnancy and postnatal comfort and served as an amazing feeding pillow for those frequent newborn feedings.
#6. Phone charger
Pack a spare phone charger in your hospital bag just in case you don’t remember to add it in when you decide to leave to go to the hospital.
Newborns eat, poop and sleep. And while you should rest as much as possible after birth, you may not spend your entire time sleeping.
It’s inevitable that friends and relatives will want to contact you with well-wishes after you give birth.
Your phone battery will be drained. And, if you don’t pack entertainment for when you don’t have visitors,, chances are, you’ll want a fully charged phone to respond to all of those well-wishes.
Plus, you’ll probably want to take many, many photos with your phone of the beautiful baby you just delivered. And who can blame you? Your baby is the most beautiful thing in the world to you right now.
So those are the essentials that I would pack in my hospital bag the next time I have a baby. Have I missed any of your essentials? Let me know what you found essential for a comfortable hospital stay.
Check out my post on essentials pack for your new baby during the hospital stay.